The Vestry Away Day

I’ve always encouraged Vestry Away Days. However, I can tell that they’re not always as enthusiastically met as I’d hoped. I know that when you work 9-5 Monday to Friday the last thing you want to do on a Saturday is go off with a bunch of churchy folk and talk even more church than you do at Vestry meetings. And I realise that not everyone is as mad about the church as I am. So I was very conscious that there may have been a few wee grumblings about our Away Day yesterday. But not on the way home, I am delighted to say.

Over the years I’ve taken some myself but I know its always better if I can get a facilitator to lead the day. An outsider always brings something fresh to the proceedings. Usually this means sitting down with that person and discussing what we hope to get out of the day. This year I sent out an email asking the Vestry what they wanted from our Away Day. I got two replies. And one who said all she could think of just now was boilers. (She’d been having a tricky time with the Gas Board, I seem to recall.) Like I said, they are busy people. So I sat down with our lovely Facilitator Claire, and told her what I hoped we’d get from the day. She came back to me with a plan and after a little tweaking it looked all good.

I know that my Vestry are busy people. They are all folk who are doers. This is a bonus in a Vestry, let me tell you. And a lot of their ‘doing’ involves food. They bake for our Afternoon Tea Services for the housebound and elderly, they cook for our Soup and Pud Lunches, they provide food and crafts for our Sales. They are always doing. So when Claire said she’d provide lunch as well for our Day, so that they could be served instead of serving that seemed just right.

So we headed east, I think, and arrived for coffee and cookies and looked around the hall where areas were marked out for worship and inspiration and writing. In the morning we thought about what was good in Christ Church, what we loved about it, where God was in it and in our community. We did this by praying, by walking, by drawing pictures, by talking and by scribbling thoughts down. We sparked off one another and one thought led to another.

Lunch was homemade soup and homemade bread and the conversations continued. Then we looked at how we could 2015-02-28 14.51.00share our enthusiasm about Christ Church with our community. Small groups went off to talk about our new Noticeboard, the Website, the Church appearance, and PR. We came back brimming over with ideas ready to be put into action. Then came the delightful Kelpie-shaped scones with jam and clotted cream. I don’t think there were any left over. We finished by going over to church for a Eucharist where we served one another the bread and wine.

On the way home one person said she really wasn’t looking forward to the day and had swithered about calling off. But she was so glad she hadn’t as it had been fun and she felt really inspired. There were lots more positive comments – especially about all the hard work our facilitator had put into making the day a success. And of course we all got to know one another just that little bit better too. And I can’t wait to get all our many flipcharts back all typed up so that we can begin the work of being Christ Church in Falkirk.

And on the Sabbath you shall rest

I don’t think so.

We kept the Feast of All Souls twice yesterday morning, reading out the names of all those known to us who have gone before. It was a long list this year and I could read most of them because most people heeded my plea to PRINT the names of their beloved. The church was still bedecked with skeletons which added a certain je ne sais quoi.

Then it was a mad dash across town to St Michael & All Saints for the celebration lunch to celebrate the restoration of the church. The green carpet is down and looks just spectacular. Red and green is a bold choice for a church but if anyone can carry it off, St Mike’s can. Lots of familiar faces and plenty clergy to hobnob with. Nice to see Fr Tom Cuthell (retired CofS minister from St Cuthbert’s) who is the most catholic presbyterian ever. A long time ago I went on one of his Assisi pilgrimages and have very fond memories.

Back home to see Son #2 off to his new flat in the centre of town, making it much easier for him to get to work. Mind you it looks like there is still a lot of detritus to clear up. Of course five minutes after he’d left and I was just enjoying the peace and quiet, Son #1 phoned and asked if he could come and stay the night. The peace was short lived.

Then back to church for our Alternative Service which had the theme of Remembering. Tisec’s training in ministry with tea lights came into its own. Lots of silence too. Bliss.

And throughout it all we had to take part in the new census of age/gender profile which is happening throughout November. Everyone who comes through the doors has to tick their age group, gender, and whether they are a family or not. There would have been a time when the vast majority would have ticked the over 60 box but no longer.

And finally, for those interested, there are 3 vacancies on St Mark’s Vestry. Names should be in by next Sunday.

Festival of St Mark

Glorious mass last night for St Mark with the Bishop, no less. (Just a pity half the congregation weren’t there to hear him!) Good music and new mass setting (Archer’s Missa Simplex) – thanks to the choir – and a stonker of a sermon.

I wonder if I will ever get to the stage of hallowedness when I can wander about the church preaching sans notes. I fear not.

Our servers and administrators of the chalice were licensed and the Ministry Team was blessed and inspired to do great things visiting the sick and housebound.

As ever, St Mark’s provided enough food to fur up your arteries really well. We would be dining well for weeks to come, if only Health and Safety weren’t uppermost in our minds.

Today’s it’s Vestry Day and we are off to my old stomping ground at St Peter’s Linlithgow. It will be nice to see the old place and show it to my little flock. (Especially the shades of lilac decor!) Our facilitator is Shena Liddell who will keep us in line. Lunch at the 4 Marys if you want to pop in…

First Vestry meeting of the year last night and first Vestry meeting for 2 new members – welcome A & N. For the first portion of the meeting we had Andrew the organist along to talk to his paper on the future of our organ.  It is needing a considerable amount of work doing (about £45,000+ worth over the next year or so) so we are considering all the options. That is: new pipe organ, renew current pipe organ, digital organ.

We had a good discussion with some good questions and now we will go away and think about it all. There is no rush, thankfully, so we don’t have to make the decision immediately. Whilst speaking to our Organ tuners, Forth Pipe Organs, they told me about this document:  Church Heating and the Organ which was really useful. If your church is considering new heating or new organs have a look at it. I wish we’d known about it sooner before our new robust heating dried out all the leather and wooden bits of the organ. We are now going for the heating being on constantly at a low temperature during winter to avoid the sudden surges.

The rest of the meeting went well, even the multitude of AOB questions from our new People’s Warden. By jove, she has been doing her work!

Unbeknownst to the Vestry I spent much of it poking around with my tongue into the new temporary tooth which was put in yesterday morning and I had broken by dinner time. Not to mention mourning the fact that my gorgeous Irish dentist is leaving next week. Boo hoo.

A let down

Not sure that I can hold my head up again in the hall of fame that is clergy who manage to hold vestry meetings in less than an hour. I am ashamed to say that last night’s was an hour and three quarters. And I suspect it was all my fault too. Mea culpa.


I have a hole in the roof of my rather large garage. I may have blogged about it before, but to keep you up to date I shall repeat that it was caused by a dodgy gardener who came in the summer and offered to cut back my leylandii hedge and stood on the garage roof to do so. Presumably he put his foot through the garage roof and didn’t let on. Those were sunny and hot days back then and it was some time before the rain came and flooded through onto my precious things.

Eccelesiastical Insurance were contacted and told us just to get one quote. Yellow Pages were examined and a Roofing Contractor was contacted. He came out and after much sucking in of air between teeth (something tradesmen must learn at college) declared that the whole roof needed repairing because it was made from chipboard and about to all come down. He put in his estimate, we sent it off and sat back and waiting – except for the daily emptying of the bucket which catches all the rain in Edinburgh which seems to be channelled into my little hole.

EI were not happy at this vast cost and demanded a second opinion. So it was back to Yellow Pages. Since then I have phoned about 5 Roofing Contractors, waiting in on the days they said they’d call and got angry when they didn’t. I have phoned back but to no avail. It is all very frustrating. Does nobody want any work? Is this job too small for them? I used to be self-employed and I would NEVER have not turned up. I even phoned if I was going to be late.

Last week I heard one of the Vestry say that she had just had her roof repaired so I leapt upon her demanding their phone number. She gave me 2 numbers and said they were just small companies but to give it a go. Small company for a small job? Perfect, I thought. You can guess what’s coming, can’t you? Phoned the first one, left a message and nothing. Phoned the second one the next day, and agreed to wait in on Tuesday. Nothing, nada, niet.

Oh well, back to Yellow Pages.

The Vestry are calling

Tonight is the Vestry party at the Rectory. (Vestry = PCC for you southerners) So yesterday passed in a whirl of dusting and polishing and hiding. And I just know that some of those hidden things will remain so until I move house again.

The nibbles have been purchased, the wine rack is groaning with the weight (you know how thirsty those Vestry members can get) and I’ve just remembered I haven’t done the icecubes for those G&Ts.

They are coming with their spouses (or should it be spice?) so it will be fun to meet those folk who wouldn’t darken the doors of the church.

I wonder if I should have organised some games to keep the atmosphere fun. Any ideas?

Christmas card dilemma

There is a great idea for sending Christmas cards to your friends in church which goes like this. You send ONE card to all your friends in church and it gets pinned up at the back of the church so all can see it. If you have saved lots of money (not to mention a rainforest or two) you put the money saved in a jar and it can go to church funds or even buy a goat for a family in Africa. Does it sound like a good idea to you? Yes, I thought so too.

There is nothing worse, in my opinion, than piles and piles of cards cluttering up the back of a church until February because some folk have gone away and not picked them up. And there is nothing more demoralising if you are the new person in church to look forlornly to see if there is one card for you, only to find dozens for the popular people and oldtimers and nothing for you. And then there’s that problem where you pick up your cards and find one from someone you’ve not sent one to, so you’ve got to dash home and buy another packet.

Well I thought it was a good idea. I’ve done it before in past churches and it looked lovely to have all these cards up, and we sent all sorts of creatures to Africa too. Didn’t go down so well at the Vestry meeting last night though. It seems that people like to get LOTS of cards and one staying in church just wouldn’t do at all. My suggestion that if they really wanted to send cards to friends and did so privately was met with disappointed faces. So it looks like I have to get a vote on it.

Oh well, it seemed like a good idea.